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La Côte Saint Jacques & Spa.

Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel on a river. France,Joigny

Jean-Michel Lorain

La Côte Saint Jacques & Spa Joigny 89300

My grandmother, Marie Lorain, created the Côte Saint Jacques straight after the war. But it was my parents, Michel and Jacqueline, who turned the family guesthouse into a luxury hotel from 1958 on. To the point of making it one of the finest eating places in France.

I started cooking when I was still very little! I grew up with it, and it very soon became clear to me that I wanted to carry on the family business. In 1977, after taking my final school-leaving exams, I went to Troisgros, then to Le Taillevent in Paris and Girardet’s in Crissier, before joining my father in 1983.

I came back to the property shortly before the creation of the hotel on the banks of the River Yonne and the construction of the famous tunnel under the N6, a jubilant period for our cuisine as we were awarded our third star that same year.

If I had to define my cooking in a few words, I’d say: Creativity, Simplicity, Travel, Respect for Produce, Texture, Playfulness.

What was your most moving culinary experience?
Lunch with my parents at Chapel’s in Mionnay in 1978: it remains my absolute benchmark for the perfect meal plus the pleasure of sharing a few hours with Alain whom we miss so much.

The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
A gigantic strawberry tart, requested by a guest for his birthday. It was so big that when we tried to move it, we couldn’t get it through the patisserie door!

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Make it simple and good.

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